Rotation Royalty

It’s safe to say that things have not gone quite like the Kansas City Royals management thought it would in 2009. The club started off pretty well but faded quickly in the standings and the Major League club is now in fourth place in the American League Central division, 11.5 games out of first place.

While the big-league club is floundering, there is some good news on the farm – especially down in low-A ball with the Burlington Bees. In recent years, the Royals organization has been stung by its inability to develop its own starting pitchers. Young stud Zack Greinke has begun to shift that trend and more reinforcements are on the way (albeit it slowly).

The Royals organization drafted two 6’5” prep pitchers in the 2008 draft: Michael Montgomery (supplemental first round) and Tim Melville (fourth round). Melville was a first-round talent who fell due to signability concerns, but the Royals did what any good organization (desperately in need of minor league talent/depth) should do: It ponied up the cash for a deserving talent, giving the organization two outstanding pitching talents from the 2008 draft.

Montgomery, a left-hander, made 12 appearances (nine starts) in 2008 at rookie ball. In 42.2 innings, he allowed 31 hits and posted a 1.69 ERA (3.13 FIP). So far this year, he’s also kept his ERA below 2.00 at 1.69 (2.83 FIP). He’s allowed 33 hits in 48 innings of work. The southpaw, who just turned 20 years old, has posted a walk rate of 3.94 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 7.88 K/9. He has yet to allow a home run this season, after allowing just two in 2008.

Right-hander Melville signed too late to make his 2008 debut, so he’s a little bit behind Montgomery on the development chart. Nonetheless, he joined the left-hander in low-A ball in 2009, where he’s made 11 starts. In 50 innings, Melville has allowed 48 hits while posting rates of 3.96 BB/9 and 7.20 K/9. The 19-year-old hurler has allowed five home runs and he has a 3.78 ERA (4.34 FIP).

Despite their inexperience, both pitchers rank among the organization’s best three pitching prospects – along with high-A left-hander Danny Duffy. Montgomery features a low-90s fastball, as well as two well-developed secondary pitches: a curveball and changeup. Melville’s repertoire includes a fastball that can touch 95 mph, a good curveball and a developing changeup that needs work.

Fear not, Royals fans. Help is on the way… Unless Dayton Moore trades Montgomery and Melville for Jerry Hairston or Ramon Vazquez.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

7 Responses to “Rotation Royalty”

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  1. KingKirkpatrick says:

    The farm system is improving…hopefully it’ll be enough to hide some of DM’s faults…but given the stupidity of some of his moves lately…it’s not looking good. Best case scenario is DM builds up the farm system and then is replaced by somebody who can better utilize the resources he inherits.

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  2. ecp says:

    This gives me an opportunity to say something I’ve been wanting to say for a couple of days now, but it would have been lost in the shuffle of vitriol…Dan Cortes may have been the third best prospect in the system, but that ranking was done months ago. Although he was looking a little better over his last two or three starts, basically, he’s been scuffling at AA this year, a level he’s repeating. Updated Baseball America prospect rankings have dropped him from the top 100 (he was at #90 preseason) and Duffy (who is close to top 50 now; I don’t remember the exact number at the moment) has easily passed him. Montgomery would also be ranked ahead of Cortes by now. Cortes’ stock has definitely been on the decline since last year’s Arizona Fall League, where he got hammered.

    (This post is is no way to be even vaguely construed as any kind of defense of Dayton Moore’s actions in the past few days.)

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  3. Joe says:

    I’m a huge Mariners fan and I would have traded Yuni to the Royals for nothing. Hell I would have even paid his full salary. Basically when he is on the field he is costing his team wins.

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  4. Dayton Moran says:

    Yuni is an up and coming talent! Ask anybody in the Seattle front office! They told me so! He’s about to breakout, Art Stewart promised me that!

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  5. BX says:

    Dayton Moore said something along the lines that he would use the farm system to acquire MLB talent, b/c that’s what the minor league system exists for… (paraphrased very roughly) in an interview (the same one where he talked about not understanding defensive statistics).

    In other words, time for GMs to call up GMDM and see what it would cost to get these guys.

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